Median U.S. income drops, pessimism and number of millionaires on the rise

Pin it

Yeah, it sucks that you lost your job, and gee, aren't those Occupy Wall Street protesters just a bunch of hipsters and and drug addicts and such — but come on, man, cheer up!  The number of millionaires in the U.S. is rising, even as the U.S. median income drops to its lowest level in over ten years! Aren't you happy for the wealthy?

The median income fell for the second year in a row to $26,364, a one-percent drop from 2009 and the lowest level since 1999. Also, a full twenty percent of adult Americans now classify their financial situation as "poor," the highest percentage since 2001, the first year the survey was enacted.

But, don't worry, you dirty poors. You can briefly turn your sweat-covered faces to the radiant light of the wealthy. (My understanding is that they actually glow.) In fact, the average number of those making a million dollars or more per year actually rose last year to 94,000 last year, up from 78,000 in 2009.

Now, some people may say, "Oh shut your clamoring potato-hole, you wretched dogsbody — that figure merely suggests that more of the hoi polloi are being lifted to the ranks of the mighty. That's 'progress' for you!"

And I guess that would be true, in the unlikely scenario that someone making $20,000 suddenly got promoted to a job paying a cool million or higher. But the top ten percent of earners, and thus those most likely to become millionaires, begins at an income about $165,000 per year, while the bottom ninety percent has a median of around $31,000. That's still a pretty big gap — and one that nicely illustrates the whole "rich get richer while the poor get poorer" argument that's fueling much of the current political climate.